Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Week of April 30 through May 6 (Mann)

What's on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

Two hot new movies open this week, GREENBERG, and THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO.

The first is from writer/director Noah Baumbach, who gave us The Squid and the Whale, and Margo at the Wedding. In other words, he specializes in dysfunctional families whose maladroit or even malicious behavior leaves you wondering whether to laugh or cry, and often you wind up doing both. GREENBERG stays in the mold.

Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) is more self-destructive than damaging to his family, but that's just because his family isn't around. He's been left house-sitting his brother's glamorous L.A. digs, where he spends his time being angry, unleashing his fury at targets ranging from Michael Bloomberg to his brother's young female assistant (Greta Gerwig).

We can't figure out whether to laugh at Greenberg, to hate him, to love him, or to pity him. The combination is "powerfully honest, insightful and poignant," says USA Today. Or maybe it's better to share a non-professional review I noted: "I recommend this film to any with OCD, anxiety, or anyone over 40 who asks 'what happened?'" It's the role that Ben Stiller was born to play.

A dysfunctional family is also at the center of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But, because this is a Swedish movie (yes, subtitles), the dys is of a different sort. In this case, someone in billionaire Henrik Vanger's family is suspected of killing his beloved niece. The dragon tattoo girl is pierced as well as inked. She's a genius Goth computer hacker somehow brought in to help solve the crime, along with a disgraced cop. Be prepared for a sinister thriller. But of course you and most of the world knows this from the New York Times #1 best-selling novel behind the film.

If you've read the novel, you'll be first in line at the box office. If not, well that's all the more reason to find out what the fuss is all about. The film has become the most successful movie in Swedish history. Take that Ingmar Bergman! Makes you wonder why all those right wingnuts are worried about Socialists. If their all-time favorite movie is just as full of action, violence, sex and perversion as anything Hollywood can turn out, why can't we match it with health insurance as good as theirs?

Just so you know, The Girl is 2-1/2 hours long, and while it's Not Rated in the United States, it carries the rough equivalent of an R rating in most of the world. But not Quebec, which only requires age 13. So if you're a kid who loved the book, you can hop a bus to Montreal.

Now that the summer season is drifting in, the Tropic will be resuming its policy of mixing in some low-brow hits. This week's offering is DATE NIGHT, starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey. It's just plain fun, as we see how a simple evening out for the suburban Fosters spirals out of control. The Neil Simon comedy, The Out-of-Towners, with a similar theme of ordinary folks lurching through a series of unplanned adventures, was so good they had to make it twice (1970 and 1999). Maybe you'll see another Date Night in 2029. Meanwhile, have fun with this one.

Comments, please, to pmann99@gmail.com
[from Key West, the newspaper - www.kwtn.com]

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